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Name: Williams v. Cavazos
Case #: 07-56127
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 05/23/2011

The dismissal of a juror, who considers a murder case as serious and in need of discussion, after other jurors complain and the state trial judge questions the jurors as to their votes and the “holdout juror,” results in a Sixth Amendment violation. The petitioner was charged with felony-murder in a robbery. The case revolved around petitioner’s expectation in driving around two friends who were casing stores for a potential robbery at another time. During deliberation, the court was notified that one juror was being difficult. The trial court questioned the jurors, and then dismissed the hold-out juror for being biased and substituted an alternate, who voted to convict. The state courts had not ruled on the Sixth Amendment issue, so there was no deference to be accorded in consideration of the claim. The court reversed the judgment of the district court, and remanded with instructions to grant the writ because (a) the court dismissed the juror because he was “biased” when in fact it was because of his views on the merits and his inclination to acquit; and, (b) there was no cause for his dismissal as he was deliberating, following the law, and was not improper.